The Commercial Appeal
Here comes another crackdown on reckless Memphis drivers
Memphis and Shelby County law enforcement will take another swing at cracking down on the trifecta of dangerous driving in Memphis — drag racing, interstate shootings, and Grand Theft Auto-style driving.
Law enforcement officials announced the latest iteration of the increasingly perennial traffic initiative Tuesday. The initiative, called “Slow Down Memphis” starts immediately.
Among the problem areas law enforcement officials are hoping to stifle are, “speeding violations, interstate shootings, reckless driving, and all the recent illegal activity that negatively affects travel within this jurisdiction,” said Memphis Police Chief Davis.
As a newer Memphis resident, Davis has commented that, when she’s not driving in a marked police vehicle, she’s noticed what she calls a “brazenness” of Memphis drivers.
“We must bring all resources available to address the lawlessness and these brazen violent acts, and attacks, that threaten innocent motorists commuting through our jurisdiction. In the months ahead, we will be working diligently to change this narrative,” Davis said.
Deputy Chief Don Crowe, Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner, and Tennessee Highway Patrol Captain Jimmie Johnson all said they would devote deputies and troopers to the initiative to complement MPD’S commitment of officers from every precinct.
Specifics about where to expect an increase in officers were not discussed, but Crowe noted a “comprehensive strategy” has been developed among officers.
“They have specific days of the week. They have specific hours of the day. They have specific sections of the interstate system,” Crowe said.
Johnson, whose department has been called on before to assist with initiatives dubbed “Operation Grizzly Bear” and “Operation Guardian Angel” said the Memphis area has seen a 20% increase in fatal crashes from this time last year, or 133 fatal accidents compared to the previous total of 112.
His department, like MPD and SCSO, has received additional grant funding for overtime expenses related to the initiative from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.
MPD, Davis confirmed, will be using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to supplement technology purchases like license plate readers.
At the conclusion of Operation Grizzly Bear in 2019, officers doled out more than 2,000 traffic citations and arrested 83 individuals.
Davis, speaking to Memphis drivers, emphasized not approaching or interacting with reckless drivers, though MPD will accept reports and license plate numbers if someone can safely do so.